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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Comparing 2024 political party platforms for the UK general election

19/6/2024

8 min read

Billboard with General Election 2024 written on it to left of photo, with blurred image of Big Ben in the background Photo: Adobe Stock/WD Stockphotos
The principal UK political parties have published their manifestos (except the SNP, at time of writing) ahead of the UK general election on 4 July

Photo: Adobe Stock/WD Stockphotos

The principal UK political parties have published their manifestos (except the SNP, at time of writing) ahead of the UK general election on 4 July. Their positions on key energy topics are summarised by New Energy World’s Senior Editor Will Dalrymple.

Of course it’s impossible to know how any new government would actually behave once in power but, as far as the manifestos go, the main parties seem to differ on the speed of the UK’s energy transition, whether to revoke existing oil and gas licences and whether to end or extend the oil and gas windfall tax. The smaller parties have their own specialist agendas and Plaid Cymru is, understandably, mainly batting for Wales.

 

Net zero

Conservative (Con): Deliver net zero by 2050. However, a ‘pragmatic and proportionate response’ is proposed, which includes a vote in the next Parliament on the next stage of our pathway, to maintain democratic consent.

 

Labour (Lab): Reach net zero by 2050. Decarbonise electricity grid by 2030.

 

Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem): Reach net zero by 2045 at the latest. Establish a Net Zero Delivery Authority.

 

Greens: Reach net zero by 2040 or earlier.

 

Plaid Cymru (Wales): Achieve net zero in Wales by 2035.        
 

Reform UK (Reform): Scrap net zero and renewable energy subsidies.

 

Wind  

Con: Treble offshore wind. For onshore wind, ensure democratic consent for onshore wind, ‘striking the right balance between energy security and the views of local communities'.

 

Lab: Double onshore wind and quadruple offshore wind capacity. Launch publicly-owned developer, Great British Energy, headquartered in Scotland (but GB-wide remit) with £8.3bn capitalisation over next Parliament, to invest in ‘thousands’ of clean power projects (onshore wind, solar, hydro). National Wealth Fund to invest directly in energy.

 

Lib Dem: Remove ‘unnecessary restrictions’ on new wind power.

 

Greens: Aiming for 80 GW of offshore wind and 53 GW of onshore wind by 2035. Aiming for wind to account for 70% of UK electricity generation by 2030.

 

Solar    

Con: Support solar ‘in the right places; not the best agricultural land’. Change planning to ease construction on brownfields and rooftops.

 

Lab: Triple solar power capacity, as part of Great British Energy (see ‘Wind’ above).

 

Lib Dem: Remove ‘unnecessary restrictions’ on new solar power. Set a guaranteed price for residential solar power sold to grid.

 

Greens: Targeting 100 GW of solar capacity by 2035.        
 

Wales: Large-scale solar would need to take into account Wales’ natural landscape.

 

Nuclear    

Con: Scale up nuclear power, building on Great British Nuclear. Approve two new fleets of small modular reactors (SMRs); halve the time for new reactors to be approved; deliver a new GW-sized power plant at Wylfa, Wales, and work to deliver Hinkley Point C and Sizewell.

 

Lab: Ensure long-term security of sector. Extend lifetimes of current plants. Complete Hinkley Point C; support Sizewell C and SMRs.

 

Greens: Target is a phase-out of nuclear power.        
 

Wales: Development of new sites is opposed.        
 

Reform: Fast-track SMRs.

 

Gas    

Con: Build new gas power stations to prevent the prospect of blackouts. Continue moratorium on fracking.

 

Lab: Maintain a strategic reserve of gas power stations to guarantee security of supply. Ban fracking ‘for good’.

 

Lib Dem: Decouple electricity prices from wholesale gas prices. Maintain ban on fracking. End fossil fuel subsidies.

 

Wales: Maintain fracking ban. Opposed to gas-fired peaking plants in Wales.

 

Reform: Support installation of combined-cycle gas turbines; grant shale gas licences on test sites for two years.

 

Coal     

Lab: Grant no new licences for mining.

 

Con: (No mention in its manifesto, but in December 2022 the Conservative Government approved the first UK coal mine for 30 years, in Cumbria.)        
 

Lib Dem: Introduce ban on new coal mines.

 

Wales: Opposed to new open-cast coal mines.


Reform: Develop clean coal mining.

 

Offshore/North Sea    

Con: Legislate to ensure annual licencing rounds for oil and gas production.

 

Lab: Ensure a phased and responsible transition that accounts for ‘the ongoing role of oil and gas in our energy mix’. No existing licences revoked, fields not closed early, but no new exploration licences either.

 

Greens: Cancel Rosebank and recent licences. Stop all new extraction projects. Remove all oil and gas subsidies. Invest £12.4bn in skills and training to transition workers.


Wales: New licences for oil and gas drilling opposed.        
 

Reform: Fast-track North Sea gas and oil extraction.

 

Oil and gas windfall tax    

Con: Keep in place until 2028–2029 unless prices fall back to normal sooner.

 

Lab: Extend the Energy Profits Levy until the end of the next Parliament. Increase rate by 3%. Retain Energy Security Investment Mechanism.

 

Lib Dem: Impose a one-off windfall tax ‘on the super-profits of oil and gas producers and traders’.

 

Electricity grid development

Con: Implement recommendations of the Winser Review to cut connection waiting times. Review alternative network technologies to overhead pylons, with presumption of undergrounding. Build more interconnectors and offshore cables to reduce onshore infrastructure.

 

Lab: Work with industry to upgrade transmission infrastructure. Invest in hydrogen and long-term energy storage.

 

Lib Dem: Reduce access costs for grid connections; reform the network to permit local energy grid; invest in energy storage (green hydrogen, pumped storage, batteries). Build more interconnectors.

 

Greens: Invest in energy storage and more efficient electricity distribution.


Wales: Develop national energy company, Ynni Cymru, to expand community-owned renewables. Devolve Ofgem responsibilities of grid design; establish Welsh Energy Systems Operator. Devolve Crown Estate in Wales.

 

Energy supply chain    

Con: Invest £1.1bn into the Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support British manufacturing. Offer bonuses to energy firms that invest in manufacturing in impoverished areas.

 

Lab: National Wealth Fund will directly invest in ports, hydrogen and industrial clusters. New fund to pay clean energy developers that invest in UK jobs. ‘Green Prosperity Plan’ will create 650,000 jobs by 2030.

 

Greens: Enable a share of community ownership in local energy infrastructure, such as wind farms.

 

Fuel poverty and energy efficiency    

Con: Fund an energy efficiency voucher scheme for England for household improvements. Ensure green levies lead to lower household bills. Maintain energy price cap; deliver Pumpwatch scheme for transport fuels; review and reform standing charges. Extend mandate of Climate Change Committee to include cost to households (and energy security).

 

Lab: Work with regulator to reduce standing charges. Spend additional £6.6bn to upgrade 5 million homes to reduce bills. Additional ‘Warm Homes Plan’ sees grants and loans for insulation, solar panels, batteries and low-carbon heating.

 

Lib Dem: 10-year emergency upgrade programme, starting with subsidised insulation and heat pumps for low-income households. Expansion of incentives to install solar panels. Help for households to meet the cost of the net zero transition.

 

Wales: Reduce standing charges. Introduce social tariff for energy. Support for energy-efficiency retrofits in existing properties.

 

Energy quotes from the manifestos    

Con: ‘We are proud of our record and remain committed to delivering net zero by 2050. Today the UK is home to the five largest offshore wind farms in the world. Half of our electricity comes from renewables, compared to just 7% when Labour were last in office.’

 

Lab: ‘The Conservatives’ ban on new onshore wind, failure to build new nuclear power stations, and decision to scrap investment in home insulation landed British families with amongst the highest energy bills in Europe… While countries around the world are racing ahead to claim the jobs and wealth that the transition offers, Britain is losing out.’

 

Lib Dem: ‘We will take the bold, urgent action needed to tackle climate change, cut energy bills and create hundreds of thousands of secure, well-paid new jobs. Together with innovative British businesses we will make the UK the world leader in the clean technologies of the future. We will help households meet the cost of the transition to net zero and make sure everyone benefits from it, leaving no one behind.’

 

Greens: ‘The UK’s current climate targets do not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis. We would push the government to transition to a zero-carbon society as soon as possible, and more than a decade ahead of 2050.’

 

Wales: ‘When it comes to powers over resources, we believe that the people of Wales should have full control over all of our natural resources, our waters and our lands. We need to have energy independence for Wales so that we can achieve a fair Greens transition on our terms.’

 

Reform: ‘Net zero means reducing man-made CO2 emissions to stop climate change. It can’t. Climate change has happened for millions of years, before man-made CO2 emissions, and will always change. We are better to adapt to warming, rather than pretend we can stop it.’

 

 

Preview  

Shadow Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Ed Miliband introduced Labour’s plans at International Energy Week earlier this year in a speech that was recorded and has since been published online.